Alfred Denis Cortot (26 September 1877 – 15
June 1962) was a Swiss-French pianist and conductor. He is one of the most
renowned 20th-century classical musicians, especially valued for his poetic
insight into Romantic period piano works, particularly those of Chopin and
Born in Nyon, Vaud, in the French-speaking
part of Switzerland, to a French father and a Swiss mother, Cortot studied at
the Paris Conservatoire with Émile Decombes (a student of Frédéric Chopin),
and with Louis Diémer, taking a premier prix in 1896. He made his debut at
the Concerts Colonne in 1897, playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3.
Between 1898 and 1901 he was a choral coach and subsequently an assistant
conductor at the Bayreuth Festival. In 1902 he conducted the Paris premiere
of Wagner's Götterdämmerung. He formed a concert society to perform Wagner's
Parsifal, Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Brahms' German Requiem, and new works
by French composers.